In Eichmann in Jerusalem, her 1963 report on the trial of the former SS director for Jewish affairs, the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt portrayed her subject as an ordinary, mindless bureaucrat rather than a genocidal monster: an example of what she famously called the “banality of evil.” Norman Podhoretz responded with a decisive critique of her thesis, which appeared in Commentary under the title “Hannah Arendt on Eichmann: A Study in the Perversity of Brilliance.” In the essay, Podhoretz also took Arendt to task for her attack on Jewish communal leaders for what she describes as their complicity in the Holocaust, and for her contempt for Zionism. Ruth Wisse discusses the essay, its legacy, and its implications for today in conversation with Eric Cohen. (Audio, 43 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann, and the Perversity of Brilliance
Is There a Way Out of Israel’s Political Deadlock?
On Tuesday, leaders of the Jewish state’s largest political parties, Blue and White and Likud, met to negotiate the terms of a coalition agreement—and failed to come to an agreement. If none of the parties in the Knesset succeeds in forming a governing coalition, there will be a third election, with no guarantee that it will be more conclusive than those that preceded it. Identifying six moves by key politicians that have created the deadlock, Shmuel Rosner speculates as to whether they can be circumvented or undone:
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